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What is Green Computing?
Green computing refers to environmentally friendly computing where the green factor depends on the usage of the computer involving its type and size, materials used to build it, power consumption and more.
In its broader aspect, green computing defines the ways to reduce the environmental impact of computers through the study of engineering including designing, producing, using and disposing of computer systems.
Hence, it is also known as Green IT or Green Information Technology.
- Green computing means sustainable computing which aims at using computer systems and their resources in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner.
- It also refers to the study of the ways of reducing carbon footprints due to computer use and wastes according to the provisions of information and communications technology.
- The deployment of green computing minimizes environmental impact and offers economic viability in computing jobs.
- Green computing is the responsibility of the users, the manufacturers and the governments, all of whom play their role differently to achieve the common goal.
- There are different methods and approaches to green computing that offer several benefits apart from the basics.
Understanding Green Computing
Green computing is a concept that became prominent in 1992 when the EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency launched its Energy Star program.
Also known as sustainable computing, green computing ensures the maximization of energy efficiency with responsible use so that the environmental impact is significantly minimized.
In simple terms, it means eco-friendly and environmentally responsible use of computer systems as well as their resources.
It also involves the designing of the computer systems and chips as well as its other hardware and software.
In addition to that, it also refers to the curbing of energy consumption and carbon emission by the data centers and other computing technologies to reduce environmental impact by the tech.
In fact, green computing ranges from manufacturing of the computer devices to their use and final disposal, while ensuring that the computing needs of modern society are not compromised.
This is done, basically, in three simple steps, such as:
- Reducing the use of dangerous materials in manufacturing the computer systems and their components
- Maximizing energy efficiency through the life of the system
- Promoting recyclability or biodegradability of factory waste and unusable products.
In addition to the proper use of computer systems and their resources, there are also several other ways to practice green computing. These are:
- Using efficient algorithms
- Using energy-efficient hardware
- Abstraction of computer resources
- Using energy efficient LCD monitors
- Better power management
- Electronic waste recycling
- Reusing computers
- Online or cloud storage of data instead of hard disks and others.
And, most importantly, users should be made aware of green computing and its methods, especially the younger generation addicted to computer games that need high-end video cards for high quality graphics.
This consumes a lot of energy which has a serious impact on the environment by increasing the carbon footprints due to the higher production and supply of energy.
Greater awareness among the users will ensure that the components do not end up in the landfills or in the waste stream.
Types of Green Computing
There are different types of green computing technology that reduce the depletion of fossil fuels due to the extensive use of the power generated by them. These are solar power systems, wind turbine programs and geo-thermal power.
Solar power system:
This is a great achievement in green computing technology, where sunlight is used to power up the computer systems. Photovoltaic solar panels are used in this process to convert solar energy to electrical energy.
Canada, California, and Spain are the pioneers and leaders in using this technology.
Wind turbine program:
Wind is available in abundance, just like sunlight, and can be used to power up the systems as well.
Special turbines are used in this process that generates electric power without causing any adverse effects to the environment since there is no carbon emission.
This is an exclusive type of green power technology wherein the geothermal plants generate electricity that can be used to power up the computers as well as for other daily needs in offices and homes, including cooling and heating.
Future of Green Computing
Green computing holds a lot of promise for the future. The growing concern over the environmental impacts caused by excessive and continuous computing and the need to reduce it promises a widespread adoption of green computing and the use of alternative energy resources.
No doubt it is being promoted extensively by the scientists, governments, and the manufacturers in more than one way, which is expected to become the norm of the future. A few of these useful ways are:
- Use of nanotechnology for material manipulation since it reduces energy consumption
- Use of clean computing strategies and initiatives to design and make CPUs to attain energy efficiency
- Use of technologies that emit less amount of carbon dioxide gas into the environment
- Use of recycled and refurbished products
- Creating and implementing green computing policies and standards.
With the immediate need to protect the environment, it is the flexibility and potential of green computing that ensures a better future with the users moving towards it in order to make the world a better and more environmentally -friendly living place.
What are the Features of Green Computing?
Green computing is a broad term that has its own features such as using more eco-conscious methods to use, develop and recycle technology.
It works at all possible levels such as development and manufacturing of a product to its usage and disposal with the sole aim of minimizing the impact of technology on the global environment.
Some of the key features of green computing are:
- Using hardware optimized for energy efficiency
- Lower energy utilization with optimized use of available resources
- Lowering wastage of tech components
- Better environmental controls and care to reduce toxic chemicals in the products.
What are the Four Approaches of Green Computing?
The four main approaches or strategies of green computing are Adaptive Link Rate or ALR, interface proxy, energy aware infrastructure, and energy aware applications.
Some other useful approaches that can be followed to promote the concept of green computing among the users at all possible levels involve encouraging the following:
- Green design – This refers to designing energy-efficient computer systems and other peripherals.
- Green manufacturing – This aims at minimizing waste during the production of computers and other components.
- Green use – This will ensure eco-friendly use of computers and the peripheral devices and hence minimize electricity consumption.
- Green disposal – This means disposing of and recycling the unwanted components in an appropriate manner and even repurposing the current and usable equipment.
Governments and their respective regulatory authorities too can play their part to ensure a reduced carbon footprint via green computing.
They can promote it by introducing several regulations as well as voluntary programs to reduce the impact on the environment.
The manufacturers have also taken a few initiatives to reduce the power consumption of computers both in their active and inactive states. A few of them are:
- The CSCI or Climate Savers Computing Initiative that involves green items and tips to save electric consumption by computers
- The EPEAT or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool that ensures efficiency and long-term viability
- Improvements made in the virtualized server and information center environment by international companies to ensure power efficiency
- Creation of Green500 list that ranks computers on their power efficiency and performance
- The TPC or Transaction Processing Performance Council responsible for TPC evaluations on performance metrics.
Green Computing Examples
A few good examples of green computing include purchasing systems from only environmentally committed companies, using virtual technologies, implementing electronic recycling and Energy Star programs, and limiting printing.
Some other examples of green computing are:
- Selecting substances for manufacturing based on durability, expandability and adaptability
- Designing data centers with special focus on situational circumstances, cooling systems, air quality and control
- Optimization of equipment and distribution via effective algorithms and use of terminal servers
- Better power management by using power data centers, proper OS support, an effective power supply, compact and small storage memory, LCD displays, and graphics cards with higher performance per watt and minimum idle energy.
Why is Green Computing Important?
Green computing is important because it ensures eco-friendly and environmentally friendly use of computers and their peripherals.
It also ensures energy savings with better power management and proper manufacturing and disposal of electronic waste.
There are several reasons for green computing to come into existence and become so important. These are:
- The large amount of pollutants provided by the computers that pollute, air, land, and water
- The large amount of energy required to generate electricity required by the computers which depletes the fossil fuel needed for it
- The heat generated that results in global warming
- The hazardous wastes such as mercury, lead, cadmium and others that accumulate in the landfill
- The toxic chemical wastes due to fire production, electrical insulation and soldering.
There has been a rise in temperature of about 1.2°C around the world over the last century causing melting of the ice caps and a rise in the sea level of about 20 centimeters.
It is also causing extreme and catastrophic weather events. Green computing helps to combat effects on the climate and its changes resulting in global warming.
Since computers use a lot of electricity which needs to be produced even more to meet the demands, green computing will reduce the use of electricity, thereby reducing global warming and its effects.
Data centers are not the only ones responsible for such disastrous effects because they consume just a small fraction of total electricity consumption. In fact, it is just about 1% or 200 terawatt-hours per year.
Energy-efficient and powerful computers seem to be the only solution to these growing concerns and threats and probably the best answer to the climate change issue.
Green computing fosters long-term viability and minimizes losses by conserving energy by a significant margin to lower carbon emissions. That is why it is important.
What are the Goals of Green Computing?
The ideology and goals of green computing are pretty simple: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It is to conserve energy, reduce carbon footprints, and save the environment.
Green computing is very much the same as the goals of green chemistry or chemical synthesis, which are to reduce the use of hazardous materials and promote the recyclability or biodegradability of factory waste and unwanted electronic equipment.
In addition to the basics, the idea of green computing is also to save the ecosystem and make it more viable by using computing devices that are environmentally friendly.
Therefore, the main objectives of green computing are:
- To make computing more eco-friendly and energy efficient
- To minimize the use of hazardous products
- To reduce travel requirements via telecommuting
- To recycle computing waste products
- To purchase and use green energy and renewable resources
- To reduce utility costs and save money
- To reduce the use of paper
- To design and use effective algorithms.
Where is Green Computing Used?
Green computing is used almost anywhere today right from the large industries and organizations to schools and other educational institutions. It is used in different offices and commercial establishments today as well as in average households.
It is used in wireless networks, data center energy management, cloud computing and parallel computing.
Green computing does not only involve the traditional desktop and laptop computers as you know, but also several consumer products and other devices that use power and some sort of computation. These include but are not limited to:
- Desktop computers
- Laptops computers and other smaller devices such as notebooks
- Cellular phones
- Washers and dryers
- Refrigerators and more.
What are the Challenges of Green Computing?
One of the most significant challenges of green computing is measuring and reporting environmental impact caused by a tech company.
In real-life situations and practices in the tech world the main challenge is creating a proper awareness of green computing in the workplace, which is, however, essential for reducing the environmental impact.
This leads to further challenges that include:
- Creating and following a better approach
- Measuring and following a standard benchmark and best practices
- Creating more awareness among the users at all levels
- Promoting cloud services
- Better management of data and data centers
- Increasing product lifetime
- Better software and hardware use and optimization.
This, the experts think, can be met by following a strict and more consolidated data approach.
It is also needed to create industry benchmarks that every company within that specific sector would follow.
It is only then that the companies will be able to follow and measure their efforts to achieve the goal in a much more sustainable manner.
The best practices are first needed to be understood and then compared with the ones that are being followed to find out the drawbacks and the areas that need further improvements. This will lead to a better tomorrow.
More public cloud services should be offered with much clearer measurement of power usage, identifying the amount of data being used and the amount of carbon pulled, as well as the amount of carbon footprint of the nonpublic cloud segment.
As of now, very few companies use cloud services, leave alone individual users, and therefore, the measurement of this is not mature at all.
There is a dire need for an immediate cultural shift among the users of all kinds so that they become a part of the best practices to save the environment.
In addition to the cultural shift, sustainability should be put to nonfunctional requirements as well as everything related to computing, including but not limited to:
This will save from the troubles looming at large as well as ensure better usage of the tech equipment.
Experts have also pointed out a few specific areas where green computing concepts need further pushing forward and enhancements. These are:
- Facilities of data centers, being large energy consumers
- Manufacturers to ensure that they increase their product lifetime
- Life Cycle Assessment analysis of materials and energy needed for value chain products, services and operation
- Software optimization with enhanced algorithm efficiency
- Power management when products are not in use, especially.
Faster and more efficient storage, regulation on mining cryptocurrencies will also help a lot in lowering energy consumption and carbon footprints.
How Do You Do Green Computing?
Any average computer user can follow several useful tactics to ensure green computing such as using optimized software, switching off the computer after use or putting it in sleep mode when away for a long time.
Here are some of the best and proven ways and suggestions, but these are not limited to:
- Using hibernate or sleep mode when the system is not in use for extended periods
- Buying energy-efficient and smaller notebook computers rather than larger and power-hungry desktop computers
- Activating power management features and energy saving modes to regulate energy consumption
- Ensuring safe disposal of electronic waste
- Turning off the system at the end of the day
- Refilling printer cartridges and drums instead of throwing them and buying new ones
- Refurbishing existing computer system rather than buying a new one and disposing the old one
- Not using a screensaver
- Using a multi-core processor that will run the cores only when needed, thereby saving energy
- Using a stable and uninterrupted power supply.
How Does Green Computing Save Energy?
Green computing can save energy by reducing the use of power by implementing several proven energy saving technologies.
It can be using faster and smaller memory, more powerful but energy efficient processors with multiple cores, and proper utilization of hardware and software.
Promoting the recycling of materials will also reduce electronic waste which will save a considerable amount of energy.
As said earlier, using Energy Star programs, proper power management and virtualization will also save energy because a single system will consume much less power than several of them used simultaneously.
Cloud computing and using renewable energy resources can also effectively help in conserving energy by reducing the usage of the already depleting traditional power and resources.
This will in turn reduce carbon emissions.
- Reduced energy usage
- Lower carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions
- Use of renewable energy sources
- Lower cost of infrastructure
- Lower burden from IT
- Increased resource availability
- Encourages recycling
It also reduces health risks such as nerve damage and cancer that may be caused by the chemicals present in a laptop computer.
- Costly initial implementation
- Quick change in technology
- Need for user care and awareness
- Needs a deep understanding of the concept
- Not all green computers are powerful
With increased use of computers today, green computing plays a very important role in reducing the bad effects.
This approach will allow sustainable methods to ensure a better tomorrow.
Realizing its importance, governments and regulatory authorities promote the extensive execution of green computing principles.